A Film Producer On The Rise, Hollywood Gets Biblical

Jan 19, 2014
Originally published on January 19, 2014 9:29 am

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.

This week, Watson talks about a rising film producer who is getting his big break this year and the swath of films coming out dealing with biblical stories and Greek mythology.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

It's time now for The New and The Next.


RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine "Ozy." Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Good to be with you.

RATH: First up, you have Will Packer, who is not a household name yet, but he's a film producer to watch this year.

WATSON: This young guy from Florida, who was always a movie lover, finally seems to be getting his big break. He's partnered up with the hot comedian of the day, Kevin Hart. They've got a series of films coming out. And just to hear the back story of this former electrical engineer who graduated magna cum laude from Florida A&M but who's turned his attention to the movies, it's exciting to see what he's building. And he now has a big deal with Universal Studios, which is bringing a series of films this year.


KEVIN HART: (as Ben Barber) OK. I wanted your blessing in asking your sister to marry me.

ICE CUBE: (as James Peyton) You want to marry my sister? Show me that you're worthy of her.

HART: (as Ben Barker) How am I supposed to do that?

CUBE: (as James Peyton) I'm going to take you on a ride along.

RATH: And it's funny because I had noticed how it looks like - with his upcoming films, especially - that Kevin Hart is everywhere. And it turns out that, you know, Will Packer is the guy that seem like he's behind a lot of this.

WATSON: They've teamed up in the past and kind of nurtured each other's career. And now not only is Kevin Hart starring in a number of these, but Idris Elba. He's got a huge film coming out towards the end of the year called "No Good Deed." I think he's got two tremendous stars that he's get a chance to work regularly with.

RATH: You also have a fun thing here. This is films that are coming up in this next year. I love this - as a former kid who was forced to study Latin - involving some classic tales.

WATSON: Well, we knew that you needed a little Greco-Roman.


WATSON: And so it turns out, believe it or not, between now and the Christmas holidays this year, there will be seven big-budget Hollywood films kind of taking you back to kind of Greco-Roman, biblical sort of topics. So you've got one on "Pompeii," you've got a big one starring Russell Crowe called "Noah." You've got a big one coming this summer on "Hercules," starring the guy formerly known as The Rock and now referred to as Dwayne Johnson. So it's kind of a funny little quirk.

RATH: Swords and sandals are back. And I was noting in your piece that - I didn't realize that Pompeii has had something like 200 previous renderings and film.

WATSON: Pompeii weighs in at 200, Hercules, 83 previous versions, including one in January already. Hollywood is beating a theme in 2014.

RATH: Shifting to books now, e-books are growing more and more popular. But you have a piece about e-lit that's published specifically for women.

WATSON: Well, one of the most interesting things, Arun, that's happened is this hunger for something that's longer than a magazine article but shorter than a book. A couple of writers and executives - Peggy Northrop and Laura Fraser - looked up and saw some of the biggest services having 80 to 90 percent male writers and said this is kind of crazy, given that 70 percent of the readers are women.

And so they created something called shebooks.net with the idea of profiling and ultimately representing more and more female writers of these long short stories, if you will. I went online to look at some of the really interesting e-books they had and what a tantalizing variety of memoirs, of interesting cooking books, travel features, mysteries, a really healthy mix in their first wave. They just launched in December, by the way, so a lot here is new.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine "Ozy." You can explore all the stories we talked about at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Really my pleasure. Look forward to seeing you next week. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.